Drinking or using drugs during pregnancy increases the chance of
miscarriage as well as the risk of having a baby with
physical and emotional problems. These problems can range from mild
problems to severe birth defects.
Fetal alcohol syndrome
is a combination of physical and mental birth defects caused by
exposure to alcohol before birth. About 1 in every 1,000 babies is born with
fetal alcohol syndrome.
A baby born with fetal alcohol syndrome
Marijuana use can cause premature delivery, small size, and
low birth weight. Cocaine and amphetamine use can cause spontaneous abortions,
preterm labor, and low birth weight. A baby of a mother addicted to heroin,
cocaine, or amphetamines may experience severe symptoms of drug withdrawal
shortly after birth. Also, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection can be
transmitted from shared needles used to inject drugs. HIV can then pass to the
baby from the infected mother before birth.
Some of the damage
caused by alcohol and drug use can occur very early in pregnancy. If you are
thinking about becoming pregnant, stop drinking or using drugs before trying to
become pregnant. Exposure to drugs or alcohol is particularly damaging during
the first 3 months (first trimester) of pregnancy. Some women do not even
realize that they are pregnant during this time.
October 13, 2011
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
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